At the time of the eruption, a church in the town of Atzitzihuacan which is located on the slopes of the volcano, collapsed during a mass, killing 15 according to Reuters. The volcano is located just 40 miles southeast of Mexico City and can be seen from the capital city when the weather is clear.
Geologist and Forbes contributor Trevor Nace says it probably is not a coincidence that the eruption occurred shortly after the earthquake. “The volcanic eruption likely was triggered by shaking caused by the earthquake,” wrote Nace in an article in Forbes.
However, Mexico’s National Center for the Prevention of Disasters (Cenapred), which classified the eruption as “low-level” disputes that assertion.
“It is important to note that no significant increase has been observed in the activity of the volcano that can be related to the earthquake of magnitude 7.1, registered on September 19 with an epicenter in the state of Puebla,” wrote the agency (translated) in a press release.
Popocatepetl, which at 17,800 feet is North America’s second tallest volcano, is incredibly active.
After being largely dormant for most of the 20th century, it roared back to life in 1994 and has been irregularly but consistently active since then, according to Volcano Discovery.
According to the Cenapred website, Popocatépetl volcano emitted 299 low-intensity exhalations and an explosion during the same 24-hour period in which the earthquake occurred. During that same time, it also caused 6 volcano-tectonic earthquakes with magnitudes between 1.2 and 1.8.
On early Monday morning, before the earthquake, the volcano emitted a fumarole that shot ash 3 kilometers in the air.
In November 2015, the volcano emitted more than 48 fumaroles in one 24-hour period. The ash from those explosions was so intense, it caused the Puebla Airport to suspend operations for nearly 5 hours.
Cenapred, which monitors the volcano 24 hours a day, has not changed the volcano warning alert level, which remains at Yellow Phase 2.
At this level, people can expect low to intermediate explosive activity, light to moderate ash rains and the possibility of pyroclastic flows and short-range mudflows the agency says. Meanwhile, Cenapred also reminds everyone to maintain a safe distance of at least 7.5 miles (12 km) from the volcano.